REGIONAL- Babbitt Mayor Andrea Zupancich and Ely Mayor Roger Skraba scored big wins in Tuesday’s Republican primary election in their mutual quests to join the state Legislature, and experience …
REGIONAL- Babbitt Mayor Andrea Zupancich and Ely Mayor Roger Skraba scored big wins in Tuesday’s Republican primary election in their mutual quests to join the state Legislature, and experience won out in the three-way nonpartisan contest for county sheriff.
In her bid to claim the District 3 Senate seat left vacant by the retirement of longtime Sen. Tom Bakk, Zupancich garnered an overwhelming 69 percent of the vote against Kelsey Johnson, of Gnesen Township, winning 5,762-2,581.
St. Louis, Cook, and Lake County precincts gave Zupancich over 70 percent of their votes, while district constituents in Itasca County preferred the Babbitt mayor 64-36 percent. Zupancich won all but four of the District 3 precincts in St. Louis County, including all of the North Country precincts where the Zupancich family name is widely known. Koochiching County was the only location where the race was even close, and even there Zupancich won with 54 percent of the vote.
Zupancich will face Hermantown City Council member and DFL candidate Grant Hauschild in the general election. Hauschild ran unopposed in the DFL primary, getting 7,235 votes.
Skraba earned the right to take on House District 3A DFL incumbent Rob Ecklund in November with a decisive 3,030-1,521 win over first-time political candidate Blain Johnson, garnering 66 percent of the vote.
Skraba won by running almost dead even with Johnson in Itasca and Koochiching counties and winning big everywhere else. Outside of losing Camp 5 Township three votes to two, Skraba swept 33 of 34 St. Louis County precincts in the district.
Ecklund had 3,870 votes running unopposed.
Current St. Louis County Undersheriff Jason Lukovsky and former Duluth and Wichita, Kan. police chief Gordon Ramsay brought their experience to the table in the St. Louis County Sheriff’s race, while part-time Moose Lake officer and gun shop owner Chad Walsh was banking on a conservative-oriented message of change to bolster his chances.
Experience won out, as Ramsay picked up 13,995 votes, 40 percent, to win the nonpartisan primary, followed by Lukovsky with 11,454 votes, or 33 percent. Both men will now face off in the general election, set for Nov. 8. Walsh picked up 26 percent, with 9,118 votes and failed to advance to the November election.Ramsay drew his strength in Duluth, winning 32 of the 33 precincts in the region’s largest city, which gave him his winning margin. While Ramsay’s appeal dropped off considerably outside of Duluth, Lukovsky found more consistent support throughout the county.
Walsh, who called himself “a constitutional sheriff,” a controversial right-wing theory that suggests sheriffs are the ultimate authority in their counties, found considerable support in northern St. Louis County. He was the top vote-getter in a number of North Country precincts, including Babbitt, Cook, Ely, Orr, Angora, Eagle’s Nest, Embarrass, and Leiding.
But Walsh fared poorly in Duluth, finishing last in all 33 precincts. Lukovsky built a comfortable 2,398 vote edge over Walsh in the city, allowing him to outpace Walsh overall to claim his second-place finish and qualify for the general election.
Other races of interest
In the Republican primary for Attorney General, Jim Schultz easily defeated Doug Wardlow, with Sharon Anderson finishing a distant third. Schultz received 163,939 votes, or 53 percent, to Wardlow’s 108, 547 votes, or about 35 percent. Wardlow may have miscalculated in his effort to make the election about abortion when he recently pledged to “wage war” on Minnesota’s state constitutional right to an abortion. Schultz is also anti-abortion and would favor more legislatively-enacted restrictions, but has consistently said that he would “enforce law, not make law” and defend the laws as enacted regardless of his policy preferences.
Schultz will try to unseat DFL incumbent Attorney General Keith Ellison, who won almost 90 percent of the DFL primary vote on Tuesday.
The Eighth District congressional contest was no contest at all for incumbent Republican Rep. Pete Stauber and DFL challenger, state Rep. Jen Schultz, each winning with around 90 percent of the vote.
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